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James B. Campbell

Studio easel
In the studio, work in progress,
underpainting on In The Begining

Background:


During high school, I was chosen to participate in programs developed with Southern Oregon College. This experience afforded me the opportunity to work with print making and won a National Scholastic Art Award for one of my prints. After graduation, I attended S.O.C. as an honor student in humanities, and concentrated on printmaking."

During the summer of 1969, I met Sharon Kroeker while we were both working at the Oregon Caves National Monument. She impressed me with her commitment to her convictions and ideals. A close relationship developed, but at the end of the summer she returned to Ohio State University to complete her bachelor’s degree in elementary education, and I returned to Southern Oregon College. In 1970, I joined the United States Air Force and was stationed at Shaw AFB in South Carolina and performed duties as a graphic artist. Upon completing her degree, Sharon joined me and began teaching near the base. We were married six months later, and as the war in Viet Nam was drawing to a close, I was discharged from military service. We then moved to Massachusetts where I enrolled at Montserrat School of Visual Art.

While at Montserrat, my studies included drawing and graphic design, but were largely driven by a restless exploration of various painting styles, and techniques. It was during this seminal year that I started experimenting with shaped canvases, developing increasingly ‘reductionist’ compositional concepts with an aim to eliminating unnecessary elements in my work. Woven through this theoretical asceticism was a concentration on the use of color, for both expressive and compositional control.

Following the year at Montserrat, we returned to Oregon where I again entered the working world of graphic design. The design work proved to be invigorating, creating innovative solutions for each challenge. Two years later, in 1975, I strategized my return to art school, but I found that my expectations did not coincide with the reality of the educational environment. Disappointed but hopeful at this point, we paused in our travels to visit friends in Bloomington, IN, home to Indiana University.

This fortuitous stop in a classic college town initiated a new chapter in our lives. We rapidly transformed from a couple to a family and purchased a home in Bloomington. I became established as a graphic designer and was soon immersed in the commercial print business. In 1994, I accepted a position as an exhibit design manager, and acquired new skills, teaching myself 3-D computer modeling and rendering.

Throughout these years, I maintained artistic balance from the discrete constraints of design by spending endless late night hours before the easel. It was during these subterranean sessions in my basement studio that I freely explored the boundaries between painting and sculpture, and searched for materials, methods and insights to marry these disciplines. My work steadily evolved from flat irregular polygons to organically stylized, sculpted-canvas supports. I was finally able to break through the boundaries of the rectangular canvas to a curvaceous new world.

Then in 2004, we purchased a small property adjacent to our home, and converted it into a studio. Within this creative space, I continue to challenge myself to discover provocative, innovative insights and to apply them in my fine art, as well as in solutions for my professional clients. Creative thinking is a way of life, and some might say, an obsession. The trick is to stay obsessed, and to capture that fire in art that connects, and endures.